Five Things We Learnt From Tom Dixon at Milan Design Week

The British designer on technology, trends and the perfect collaboration.

By
Design 
2,582 Hypes 0 Comments

Over the course of a celebrated career spanning four decades, British designer Tom Dixon‘s creations have seen him become a household name and a byword for contemporary design. His furniture and lighting creations can be found in countless high-end locations around the world as well as on display in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. And there seems to be no sign of slowdown — recent expansion into the US and the Far East will be bolstered this year with the opening of a store in Hong Kong.

At Milan Design Week this year he took over the cavernous Teatro Manzoni for his”Multiplex” exhibition. The cinema’s elegant spaces — including the screening room, foyer and bar — were filled with a retrospective of his work as well as displaying a series of new collaborations including his modular sofa range for IKEA and the elegant Johnnie Walker Blue Label Capsule Series, which was inspired by the rarity and craft behind the storied whisky brand. We caught up with Dixon in Milan to get his take on heading up a design empire and what to expect in the future.

Entertainment Is Part of the Game

Tom Dixon Interview Milan Design Week 2017

Cut Lighting

“It took three months of work to finish Multiplex and we started off in a completely different place — I originally wanted a completely white warehouse and to just lay everything out in a long line but my team came back with this and we changed the concept. I think we’ve got the right balance of commerce and entertainment, which is what you have to do to attract people now. You have to reinvent yourself in a way every year, which I enjoy but it can be very wearisome for my team.”

Design Shouldn’t Follow Fashion

Tom Dixon Interview Milan Design Week 2017

Delaktig Sofa for IKEA

“Because design is such a diverse field, it’s much harder to follow than apparel, which is constantly changing but essentially remains the same. I’ve always been connected to the fashion business and my first clients included Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garçons. But with furniture you don’t want things to be so fast moving. It’s a delicate balance of staying relevant and up to date while having something that feels like it has permanence. I’d love to do fashion but I see a clear separation between that and what we should be doing with longer-term products, avoiding the seasonal roller coaster the fashion business has to follow to survive.”

Technology Is (Slowly) Changing Design

Tom Dixon Interview Milan Design Week 2017

Melt Lighting

“There’s not been nearly as much disruption as people anticipated, whether that’s through rapid prototyping or the online retail model. With furniture things are really static and conservative right now — back in the 1970s there were huge bits of fiberglass, big sofas and beanbags but that’s kind of vanished in place of neoclassicism. In lighting things are driven far more by technology though and people are much happier to be contemporary so we can be more playful and experimental. Working with IKEA has been interesting as these sofas are providing a platform — it’s just a frame into which you can plug and play different components. It’s a very different way of working to asking, “How can I produce the next iconic, killer chair.” It’s about high-end meeting low-end, a bit like Comme des Garçons teaming up with H&M. It happens all the time in fashion but doesn’t always trickle down into design.”

Design Could Work a Lot Harder

Tom Dixon Interview Milan Design Week 2017

Textiles Collection

“It’s a very frivolous field that we’re working in and we’re not really changing the world. But design has the ability to be transformational. There’s a lack of engagement with the real issues right now — we need to wake up and smell the coffee. There are a few things where design seems to care a bit — for example we’re making chair covers with Syrian refugees — but there’s lot more that could be done.”

Collaborations Are Great for Business

Tom Dixon Interview Milan Design Week 2017

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Series

“We don’t depend on collaborations but they’re usually a strategic development to try to work out whether there’s a different way of doing things — it might be dipping our toe into a new category or working with a new manufacturer. Working with IKEA has been brilliant in terms of opening up a world of new partners. We’ll probably do one or two a year. You have to spice things up and it’s always good to recontextualize yourself for yourself and your customers. Who knows, following my Arabeschi di Latte partnership here, maybe my future is in chewing gum.”

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

First Poster for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Is a Throwback to the Franchise's Beginnings
Entertainment

First Poster for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Is a Throwback to the Franchise's Beginnings

Hitting theaters this December.

Learn More About Bekon, the Producer Behind Eight Songs off Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN'
Music

Learn More About Bekon, the Producer Behind Eight Songs off Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN'

He’s also worked with Dr. Dre, RZA, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and more.

A Short List of adidas Originals YEEZY BOOST 350 V2 "Cream" Retailers Has Just Leaked
Footwear

A Short List of adidas Originals YEEZY BOOST 350 V2 "Cream" Retailers Has Just Leaked

More chances to cop.


'David Lynch: The Art Life' Reveals the Story Behind One of Modern Culture's Greatest Minds
Entertainment

'David Lynch: The Art Life' Reveals the Story Behind One of Modern Culture's Greatest Minds

This could be one of the best documentaries of 2017.

The Jordan Fly 89 Receives A "Royal" Makeover
Footwear

The Jordan Fly 89 Receives A "Royal" Makeover

The latest iteration of the lifestyle model.

Kendrick Lamar Might Be Releasing a New Album on Easter Sunday
Music

Kendrick Lamar Might Be Releasing a New Album on Easter Sunday

The Internet explodes with fan theories.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Help us serve you better

We appreciate your support in allowing HYPEBEAST ads, where we can share contents from the latest fashion, to those culturally relevant. In adding HYPEBEAST to your ad blocker's whitelist, ads on our sites will show while you continue to browse.